Who Do You Say That I Am

“Who do you say that I am?” The answer to that question is both personal and communal. My personal answer is arrived at through prayer and in loving service to others. The communal answer is achieved through common reflection and dialogue with my faith community, the Church.

The past days have been heady and thrilling times for many in the US.  The SCOTUS has recognized the rights of gay persons to be married, giving them the same rights as straight couples. The Church has long struggled on the pastoral care of LGBTQ and has always adhered to the commandment of love; that they should be treated with love and respect. But the Church’s stand is that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman. I personally never had a problem with the third sex. I have dear family members, close friends and respected colleagues who are gay. But I am struggling, with the Church, on the issue of same-sex marriage. I need more prayers and reflection as well as guidance and dialogue with others in my faith community on this issue.

The SCOTUS has also recently upheld the ACA/Obamacare. The Church has opposed the ACA because it imposed the used of public funds to pay for abortions. But it had a laudable objective of providing healthcare for the poor, the aging and the disadvantaged. In a country that would spend trillions on weapons and wars and billions more to bail out distressed big corporations; it is scandalous that in trying to balance the budget the first items to go are those funds earmarked for education and for social services for the poor, the sick and the aging. These are the peripheries that Pope Francis has challenged us to go out to and to love and serve.

The Charleston Church shooting is a national tragedy. But it has become the occasion to finally shed off the last vestiges of an inglorious past in a nation’s history. Black people have always been disadvantaged since the days of slavery. And inordinate number of them are poor, are school drop-outs, are in prison or have had a stint in one. While their contribution to the arts and culture, to sports and to the sciences are outstanding and immeasurable, theirs is generally a miserable lot. As a people, they have found refuge in the Church and in their religion and spirituality.

I see the Church struggling mightily to live Christ’s commandment of love in the face of the burning issues of the day. It is inspiring to see all these changes happening as people become more sensitive to one another’s needs. It is not always to answer the question of the gay community when it asks the Church, “Who do you say that I am?” Or when the poor, the aging, the sick and the disadvantaged in out midst ask the Church community, “Who do you say that we are?” Or, when a black person asks the Church community, “Who do you say that I am?”

The answer will come only through struggles and prayers. For before we can answer, we must first listen, prayerfully and lovingly and respectfully, to what they have to say as to who they are.

The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
~ Psalm 34

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16:13-19

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